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Faculty/Staff Directory

Professional Learning & Innovation

Department of Professional Learning and Innovation

Phyllis Balcerzak, Ph.D., is a Senior Program Producer in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where she works with teams to explore, design, and build innovative programming for K-20 students and educators. Balcerzak joined the UMSL-COE in 2015 after retiring from her career at Washington University where she was a clinical associate professor of teacher preparation (1996-2006) and director of professional development in science education (2006-2014). Through the course of her career, Balcerzak has designed and implemented several national and state STEM initiatives for K-12 teachers, among these the Center for Inquiry and Science Teaching and Learning (CISTL), a collaboration between higher education and informal science institutions to research professional development for K-8 science teachers; Life Sciences for a Global Community, a national MS in biology degree program for secondary teachers at Washington University in St. Louis; and, Tools of Inquiry, a graduate degree program for educators interested in the design of professional development in math and science.  

Balcerzak’s interests are in customizing/differentiating professional learning for educators working with K-12 students. In support of this work she has studied the conditions enabling the transfer of professional learning from summer institutes to the K-12 classroom, published and presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Through her involvement in the National Science Foundation’s Noyce master teacher and scholarship programs, she is engaged in the adaptation of teacher preparation and induction support to increase the effectiveness of beginning teacher initiatives in high need/under-resourced schools.

Dr. Balcerzak has extended her study of the ecological sciences into the development of K-8 curricula published in partnership with the National Institute for Health, Human Impact and Ecology: An Investigative Curriculum for Middle School Teachers; Microbial Fuel Cells, a project-based curriculum for chemistry teachers and a curriculum for professional leadership for secondary life science teachers in, Journal of the Math Science Partnership Knowledge Dissemination Project. Horizon Research, Chapel Hill, NC.

Prior to her work in higher education, Balcerzak was a teacher of science and social studies for students in grades 4-12, where she focused her attention on the processes and strategies for teaching a student-centered curriculum. This foundational experience as a practitioner has informed her subsequent goals to place research in the service to practice and to generate research from the study of practice.

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